Photo: Kevin Winter/WireImage/Getty
By Claudia J. Gonzalez
Merced, Calif— Carmen Orozco, 19, was watching the Latin Grammys last Thursday night when she witnessed something that fueled her desire to vote in the 2016 Presidential election.
What was supposed to be a night of awards and ballads turned political when two beloved Mexican bands, Mana and Los Tigres del Norte, raised a sign that read “Latinos Unidos No Voten Por Los Racistas” or “United Latinos Don’t Vote for the Racists.”
“I just started laughing,” said the Merced College student. “I felt so proud and motivated to vote.”
While performing the immigrant anthem “We Are More American,” Mana was joined by the original performers of the song, Los Tigres del Norte, to the delight of the public. After ending the powerful performance, the group hoisted up the sign.
The crowd went wild.
Organized in collaboration with the voter registration group, Voto Latino, the political statement occurred as a website, somosmas2016.com, simultaneously went up. The website urges Latinos to register or pledge to vote.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Lead Mana Singer, Fher Olvera, said the stunt was intentional as they wanted to send a message to Latino voters: Vote for people that will help the Latino community.
Jorge Hernandez of Los Tigres del Norte also spoke about the importance of civic engagement while alluding to comments by Republican candidate Donald Trump who referred to Mexicans and immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, noting it was up to Latino community to protect this scapegoated population.
Back in June, while announcing his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump made divisive comments regarding Mexican immigrants. He voiced his concerns that the United States had become a “dumping ground for everyone else’s problems” and that Mexico was “bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.”
Trump immediately received backlash from both sides of the political spectrum and prompted various Latino artist to speak out.
Teresa Flores-Onofre, the Central Valley Director of Organizing for PICO California, who works around civic engagement says what Mana and Los Tigres del Norte did is not as important as how they did it.
“It was a very coordinated effort,” said Flores-Onofre. “ It is definitely going to give other organizations an opportunity to use this strategy to engage people.”
Flores-Onofre insists that although the elections are not until next year, it is imperative to continually keep communities engaged and informed, especially through mass media.
“Historically, the Latino community is dependant on television for information,” added Flores. “If celebrities in novelas are encouraging people to vote, the Latino community is going to vote.”
Recent UC, Merced Political Science graduate Trina Ruiz, agrees with Flores-Onofre.
“We’re such a pop culture driven society that celebrities can easily call attention to social issues as well as political ones,” stated Ruiz. “I think Latino celebrities should be more proactive,”
Ruiz added that Mana’s action just added to their long history of activism, but it also touched on the importance of being aware of our voting power and how much weight the Latino vote carries.
As for Orozco, she says watching that moment live is something she will never forget.
“I am definitely a fan of both groups now, and I will be encouraging all my friends and family to vote.”
For more information about registering or pledging to vote, you can visit Voto Latino’s website here.